Ever been on a run and wondered how far you went, how hard you’re working out, how many calories you’re burning? If you’re not wearing a heart rate monitor, you might stop and check your pulse for 6 seconds, multiply by 10 and figure out you’re at 85% of your heart maximum for your age. A few intervals of one to two minutes of anaerobic training (where you are breathing hard, and can’t carry on a conversation with your running mate), interspersed with less difficult longer minutes at an aerobic rate, probably at 70%, is a great way to burn body fat, if that’s what you’re after. That doesn’t tell you how many calories you’ve burned, however.
Ever been on a weight loss program, but aren’t sure how many calories you’re consuming? You’re in your head about it, but it’s not really visual. How much protein, carbs and fat did you consume? Might be nice to see some kind of pattern. Especially progress. How about some pie charts, graphs and color? You go to sleep but you wake up fatigued. Maybe you’re not getting into deep REM sleep and you’re tossing and turning. Would you like to see just how efficient your sleep has been? If your sleep is restless and not efficient, it can keep you from losing weight, as you’re in a stress mode. What might be a way to see spikes of restlessness, or smooth areas of sleep on a monitor?
For many women who want to get healthier; sometimes they might feel lonely, experience resistance, and the only feedback they are getting is from getting on the bathroom scale or how their clothes fit. It’s more fun if you have what I call, a “body buddy”; someone whose company you enjoy at a similar fitness level, who is motivated to improve herself. Can’t get your schedules to mesh? Is there an exercising network you could tap into; literally?
How about a reality check, and some company? Something to make the invisible and untracked, visible and logged. Enter the Fitbit device. This slender black two inch device, contains an accelerometer that not only measures movement, but the intensity of movement and can now detect climbing motions, like stairs or hills. This nifty, small, chic device comes with a “holster” and a wristlet. You can clip it onto your running bra, waistband, or belt, and go about your day. It measures not only your athletic activity, but other movements you make. Using the wristlet at night, you tuck the device in a spandex bracelet, and it measures your sleep efficiency; one aspect of tracking a very important marker of improved health; i.e. more deep REM sleep. Those who exercise more aerobically, tend to have better sleep cycles.
When you plug the jack into your computer it charges the Fitbit, as well as allows your info to upload to the software that comes with it. Or if you're near your computer for a short time, the information is uploaded. Then the real “fun” begins, as you see how active - or not you’ve been, and then you can enter other activities with the actual time you spend on them, already assigned with estimated calories burned; such as dressing, putting away clothes, doing the dishes, grocery shopping, sitting and reading etc. I browsed activities, and found “Farm”. Happily I was able to log such things as pitching hay, raking, and even walk, trot, galloping my horse. Things like those; gardening, housework, even riding in a car add up. Then you are able to set goals for limiting your intake of calories and expanding your calories burned, to change your body composition: to more lean and more healthy. Seeing, in this circumstance is “succeeding.” Also you’ll have the opportunity to “meet” and team up with others if you want to, or keep all your settings private. The site gets better all the time.
You can add in commonly eaten foods, servings, nutrition tags off the packages, or create your own. Many well known brands of prepared foods from places like Trader Joe’s, or restaurants like Olive Garden are already in the system and more sources are being added all the time. If you eat out much; and I hope not, and visit a place like Del Taco or In and Out Burger, the information is already in the system. Salt, fat, calories, protein, etc.
Speaking of In N Out Burger, I was starving yesterday on the way back from an outdoor event where I’d been walking around for hours, you guessed it, burning calories, and I simply “ran out of gas”; calorically speaking. So we went to the nearest In N Out, though I don’t eat beef often, I knew I could get their “protein meal” where they serve up a slim burger, wrapped in lettuce. My cheeseburger with lettuce, tomato and sauce came to 330 calories.
(I didn’t know that data was in the program ‘til I got home and plugged it in.) While standing in line I noticed something strange. They were making those trays of french fries, putting cheddar slices on top, putting them in an oven to melt the cheese, then applying a topping of greasy onions they’d sauteed on the hamburger griddle, and unbelievably, ladled a big spoon of what I usually refer to as “secret sauce”, probably the equivalent of Russian or Thousand Island dressing. I’m sure it weighed in at a whopping 900 to 1,000 calories at least. I felt my gall bladder spasm just looking at it. Kidding, really, just kidding...but that surely had to be a challenge to digest. Turns out even though it's not on the menu marquis, those in the know, know those are "Animal Fries."
I don’t wear my Fitbit all the time. I use it to check in with myself now and then; to see where my calories are coming from, log in my foods, see if I’m sleeping enough, exercising and moving enough, especially if after a seminar with delicious food, like BlogHer Entrepreneurs 2012, when the waist went up an inch or two.
If I get a reality check I can stay on track, without having a hugely challenging goal to deal with. I've probably lost that same 2-5 lbs over and over again throughout the years, maintaining close to my high school weight. I add an extra run a week, take the stairs, add an extra 15 minutes to each run, no starch at dinner, cut the empty calories for a few weeks. With the Fitbit I can see that it's the fact I'm not sleeping enough, not taking enough steps and have too big a dinner, and oops, skipped breakfast again. When I see it in pie charts and graphs, calories in and out it gets real. Then I just make small changes and results arrive.
Find out more about the Fitbit.Go out to our home page, click on the Fitbit logo, get one and get going.
Dr. Karen J. Krahl, D.C. owner/doctor Synergy Health Group. The link to one of my blogs is www.synergyhealthgroup.com, click on "Health News" on the banner at the top of my home page and pick a topic.
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